Is Nail Biting Harmful to Teeth

Nail biting can be a hard habit to break — but it can be very harmful to your teeth!

Children and even adults who bite their nails could crack, chip or wear down their front teeth from the stress caused by biting, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Kids who wear braces put their teeth at an even greater risk! Root resorption (a shortening of the roots) or even tooth loss can occur, since braces put an increased pressure on their teeth.

Nail biting causes other problems!

A study in the journal General Dentistry reported on patients that bite fingernails, chew on hard surfaces material or clench their teeth may be more prone for bruxism — unintentional grinding or clenching that can cause facial pain, headaches, tooth sensitivity, recessed gums and tooth loss.

Bruxism signs include: flat looking tips of the teeth; tooth enamel that is worn off, causing extreme sensitivity; popping or clicking of the jaw; and indentations of the tongue.

Many people don’t realize how many germs hide under nails!

Other dental health risks for nail biters can include sore, torn or damaged gum tissue caused by jagged, sharp fingernail edges and the spread of bacteria from other body parts to the mouth and from the mouth to the nail bed or bloodstream.

How to deter nail biting!

Patients might find that wearing a mouth guard can deter nail biting and help prevent further damage to teeth. Some dentists can also help patients use therapy techniques, like learning how to rest the tongue upward with teeth apart and lips shut to avoid tooth damage.

Visit the American Dental Association Web site at for helpful tips for patients with bruxism.


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